HomeRoast Digest


Topic: Growing pains (8 msgs / 240 lines)
1) From: webviking6
I am an absolute beginner when it comes to roasting coffee.  I just got 
a Behmor as my first roaster and have done four roasts with the Behmor 
now and am slowly beginning to "get it."  I think anyway.  My first 
attempt was a half pound El Salvador Matalpa Estate that I roasted on 
the 1/2 pound setting P1.  It ran for 13:30 and I thought it was 
underdone.  Still had a kind of grassy taste, and generated a lot of 
chaff, quite a bit of which still seemed attached to the bean.  But it 
made a drinkable cup of coffee.  Not a great cup of coffee, but drinkable.
My second attempt was a 1/2 lb of Columbia Hula Valencia, that I roasted 
on a 1 lb P2 setting and stopped after about 15:30.  The beans looked a 
lot better, golden brown, a lot less chaff, but the coffee I got out of 
it was... the only word I can honestly use is foul.  Just a foul flavor 
and aroma.  Not sure at all what went wrong on this one.
Third attempt was a 1/2 of Indonesia Flores Jade, and this time I was 
determined to push the roast into to second crack.  I needed to prove to 
myself that the Behmor could do it, as well as get a better 
understanding of the whole roast process.  I roasted on a 1 lb P2 
setting with an initial time of 18 minutes and ended up adding 1 minute 
to it just to push it as far as I could.
Oops! Too far.  I've been having trouble picking up first crack, but 
this time there was no doubt that I finally found 2nd crack.  The coffee 
sounded like a crackling campfire.  There were a couple of wisps of 
smoke from the machine, but nothing major, so I decided to let the timer 
count down to zero (there were about 20 seconds left on it) but that was 
a mistake.  The timer ended, the machine switched to cool for about 2 
seconds, then the dreaded Err 3 message popped up on the display and it 
shut down as smoke poured out of the machine.  Gave it a few seconds as 
I turned on the vent hood in my kitchen and opened the windows.  Then I 
was able to turn the machine back on and get the cool cycle going.
No fire, but it was as close as I ever want to get to a coffee fire.  
Ended up with a dark, dark French roast.  And that might be a charitable 
description.  At least I couldn't write my name with a bean though (and 
I did try), so I decided to try making a cup of coffee with these black 
oily beans.  It actually wasn't horrible, slight burned flavor though, 
and not something I would be proud to serve to friends either.  But I'd 
actually drink this before I'd drink the Columbia from my second attempt.
Ok, I've burned coffee now, or almost burned it, lesson learned.  So 
next I tried a Sumatra Lintang, again 1/2 lb, again a 1 lb P2 setting on 
the Behmor.  Roasted it just until second crack started (I'm still 
really having problems figuring out where first crack is, but 
fortunately there is no mistaking second crack), and shut it down at 
just over 17 minutes.
This time, I hit it.  I found a sweet spot.  I got a spectacular cup of 
coffee from the roast.  The most overwhelming thing about it was a 
strong, intense butterscotch flavor.  Just fantastic.  Easily as good as 
any coffee I've ever bought pre-roasted, and I've bought some pretty 
good (and expensive) pre-roasted coffee.  Had a friend come over last 
night and brewed a couple of cups, and he loved it too.  So I got some 
nice positive reinforcement :).
Two observations:
First, I really must have some voltage problems in my kitchen because it 
sure seems like it's taking me a lot longer to get a good Full City + 
roast than it should take, but that's ok, I can deal with it as long as 
I can figure out what I'm doing.  And although it's taking some time and 
effort, I do think I'm starting to get it.
Secondly, while I really appreciate the free 8 -1/2 bags of different 
green beans that came with the Behmor from Sweet Maria's, and think it's 
a totally cool thing to for them to do, in a lot of ways for a complete 
novice like me, I think it might have been better to just throw in 4 lbs 
of one kind of bean.  I'm struggling enough to just figure out how to 
roast coffee, and dealing with differences in beans on top of that is a 
little overwhelming.  But to be honest, if you had asked me what I 
wanted when I ordered the Behmor, I would have taken the sampler and not 
just one variety of bean.  It's only in retrospect that I kind of wish I 
only had one kind of bean to work with while I get the technique down.  
And eventually, I'll figure out what I like and order enough of it to 
refine my technique.
So, in a nutshell, roasting coffee has turned out to be a lot harder and 
trickier than I naively thought.  And I'm not at all confident in my 
ability to repeat my one really good roast yet.  I think that one was 
mostly due luck as anything else, but with practice and experience, I 
think I'll get better.
Sure having fun though, and that's the most important thing. :)
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2) From: Bill
John,
thanks for sharing!  Yes, there is a bit of a learning curve, but you've
actually almost completed it...
I started with a Fresh Roast 8, which is a much simpler machine.  I ruined 2
roasts (under-roasted the first, over-roasted the second) before I got it
together.  I still occasionally let one get away from me and go to french,
but I figured it out... and you will too!
There's a steady stream of debate here about the way to start roasting.
 Many advocate using a variety of beans, others to start on one bean.  I
think this might work well: for your next order, order a 5 pounder of
something that looks good.  Maybe a central or south american (mainly
because of their balance), that takes a variety of roast levels well.  Then
throw in a sampler or a few pounds of other coffees that look good.  Or, if
you wanted to, you could keep roasting 1/2 lb batches, and buy maybe 4
2-pounders.  That would give you 4 batches per bean, which would probably be
good enough to make some initial observation on a bean...
Anyway, congrats on the first few roasts with your roaster.  Really glad to
hear that you nailed one roast... now you have experienced why we're so
passionate about great coffee.  And I have great news: your coffee will
actually get better from that Lintong!!!  So keep at it.
Happy roasting!
bill in wyo
On Mon, May 19, 2008 at 10:07 AM, webviking6  wrote:
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3) From: Seth Grandeau
Some beans have much louder first cracks than others.  I found Ethiopians to
be easy to hear.  Kona is easy to hear, as well, but there is a cost factor
there to consider. :)  I'm sure other people can identify other coffees that
are easy to hear.  Once you hear it, you find it easier to pick up in the
future.
On 5/19/08, Bill  wrote:
<Snip>
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4) From: miKe mcKoffee
First to webviking6: Enjoy the Journey! And sounds like you are.
Second to Bill: Actually almost completed the learning curve? I think not!
The learning curve is more like a lifetime if roasting coffee taken
seriously.
Pacific Northwest Gathering VIhttp://www.mcKonaKoffee.comURL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must">http://home.comcast.net/~mckona/PNWGVI.htmKona Konnaisseur miKe mcKoffeehttp://www.mcKonaKoffee.comURL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must
first not know. And in knowing know I know not. Each Personal enlightenment
found exploring the many divergent foot steps of Those who have gone before.
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5) From: Bill
MiKe, I wasn't clear in my original post... I meant initial learning
curve... As in, first crack, second crack, what kind of roast level is this?
 That sort of stuff.  But yes, in the original post, that was not at all
clear.  Thanks for pointing that out.  Yes, as I travel this road of
roasting, I learn regularly how little I know about anything.  Isn't that
your signature?  Yep, I'm not on top of that curve by a long shot...
bill in wyo
On Mon, May 19, 2008 at 11:26 PM, miKe mcKoffee  wrote:
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6) From: Ed Needham
I've been roasting for 31 years (since 1977) and I think I'm beginning to 
round the first turn.
*********************
Ed Needham
"to absurdity and beyond!"http://www.homeroaster.com*********************

7) From: Dave
On Mon, May 19, 2008 at 9:07 AM, webviking6  wrote:
<Snip>
According to their website Sweet Maria's ships the Behmor with 8 1lb
bags of coffee, not 1/2 pounders. Have you been roasting pounds
thinking they were halfs? That would go far toward explaining your
"voltage problems"
-- 
Dave
Some days...
It's just not worth chewing through the leather straps
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8) From: Rich
You must actually weigh the batch of beans to be roasted.  A measuring 
cup will not work.  You really need a decent scale.
Dave wrote:
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